- The Guardian,
- Friday October 24 2008
The disgraced celebrity psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud has left his job at a leading hospital four months after being convicted of dishonesty by a disciplinary tribunal.
Persaud, who has lost media commissions after admitting plagiarism at a General Medical Council hearing in June, has stepped down as a consultant psychiatrist for the South London and Maudsley NHS trust. The move follows talks with trust officers this month when he was legally cleared to return to work after being struck off for three months by the GMC. The tribunal criticised him so heavily that there was widespread doubt that he would return to consultant status.
A spokesman for the Maudsley confirmed that Persaud had left. He said: "This is a private matter between the trust and Dr Persaud and I am afraid that we do not want to add anything to that." Persaud did not respond to approaches by the Guardian for comment.
Persaud, who spent 12 years at the Maudsley, made himself Britain's best-known "mind doctor". He was a regular on ITV's Good Morning programme and BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind, as well as a prolific contributor to newspapers and medical journals.
He was praised for making his subject interesting and accessible, but attracted increasing claims that his extraordinary output had to be based on others' unacknowledged work. He also made an enemy of the Scientology movement - opposing it in a way that many of his colleagues supported - and it was a plagiarism allegation from it that led to the hearing and his downfall. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, founded by the Scientologists, complained to the GMC that a hostile article by Persaud in the Independent in 2005 plagiarised several passages from another academic. The publicity then attracted claims from others.
Persaud, 49, married with two children, admitted nine cases of plagiarism but denied deceit, blaming overwork and misunderstandings for sloppiness in acknowledging sources.
During the four-day fitness-to-practise hearing in Manchester, he called on character witnesses including a range of celebrities and respected public figures, including the former foreign secretary David Owen.
He was found to have acted dishonestly after the panel heard evidence not just of plagiarism, but of attempts to put the blame on others such as subeditors, whom he wrongly accused of missing out attributions and quotation marks. The three members of the tribunal unanimously dismissed his defence and issued a scathing assessment of his behaviour.
Persaud grew up in a high-achieving family and was sent to Haberdashers' Aske's public school in Hertfordshire, before taking his first degree at University College London, and beginning his association with the Maudsley as a psychiatric trainee. He accumulated eight degrees and diplomas by the age of 43. He is married to an eye surgeon at Moorfields hospital, London.
Personable and fluent, Persaud made lasting friendships, and several media figures including Richard Madeley, Judy Finnigan and the broadcaster Martin Bashir said after the hearing that they wanted to work with him again.